Browsing: Small Business

Booklet Tips – 10,000 Copies

Are your business model and your vision geared only towards single copy sales of your tips booklet? You are missing out on larger sales that are easier to make than you think, no matter what size business you have or who your market is.

Let's say you are a consultant, a professional speaker, a coach, a solo practitioner, or a small business owner. You connect with a range of customers, clients, patients, audiences, and colleagues in the course of a week. Every one of those categories could be buyers of your booklet in quantities beyond a single copy.

The people who buy from you (eg customer, client, patient, audience) have people in their life who may benefit from your booklet, depending on your topic. Before even exploring what your buyers do professionally, your booklet can be an ideal gift for your buying population to give to their world, in any number of situations.

Since many booklets focus on self-improvement in one way or another, imagine one of your buyers sending a copy of your booklet to their own circle of people at the holiday season or the spring or to start the new year, or purely to stay in contact.

Can you imagine each of those people having at least 100 people in their circle? Yes, some will have less and many will have more. For this discussion, let's keep the number at an average of 100 people. Your folks love your booklet; they love the content, the quality of the production, the uniqueness of it as different than a book and different than greeting card, and they love the idea of ​​sending something useful to people in their life who are likely to appreciate the product and the gesture.

Then there are those colleges of yours, the ones who know you've done a booklet, think it's a good idea, think very about the booklet you've created, talk about doing one of their own, and just never get around to doing it. It's very likely they, too, have at least 100 people that they want to reach and stay in touch with on a regular basis.

Between the people who buy from you and those people who are your collections, you probably have more than 100 people. For this conversation, let's keep it at 100.

100 people each buying buying 100 copies from you is a total of 10,000 copies. That is a print run that lets you pay much less per copy than when you print only 1,000 copies, so right away you are more profitable. And you've set up a structure that could well be repeated several times throughout the year, giving you recurring revenue. Plus, the people who received the booklet could also become buyers of your booklet for their circle of people in their life. Does a 10,000 copy print run still look like pie in the sky?

ACTION – Let everyone in your life know your booklet is available in 100-copy batches, and suggest ways they can use your booklet to stay in touch with people personally and professionally. Then figure out what you want to do with the new revenue you're generating.

Turn Your Tips Into Products, Your Tips Products Into Moneymakers TM “

© 2014 Paulette Ensign

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Small Employers Can Offer Benefits Without Costing an Arm or a Leg

Small businesses are starting to look at alternative options to supply benefits for their employees. Some employers are afraid they will burden the cost themselves. However, persistent employers can find solutions and keep it affordable.

Employees take a major role in keeping the revenue engine humming along. This is important to a thriving business, such as yours. Making that investment in employee benefits is crucial. But how can you afford it?

Big things are always completed in steps. You did not get to your current level of success overnight. Everything starts out in projects and a low budget. Sometimes it grows into something really big.

Kind of like your garden in the backyard. When you are new to it, you start off small. There is no need to go big and cause stress and possible failure.

This is where the new healthcare law changed how small businesses can offer health insurance.

Prior to January 1, 2014, small employers could reimburse for health insurance for almost any amount the employee wanted. Today, the new law says you can not do it that way, or have a fine of $ 100 per day, per employee. Pretty harsh!

If you can not reburb , what do you do?

Here are some ideas:

1. Bring in an insurance advisor that is a good subject matter expert on healthcare reform. An employer can let the advisor sit with each employee individually and customize his or her own plan. The employee will be responsible for 100% of the premium on an after-tax basis. This can be done through the public exchange and receive a tax credit (if they qualify), or a private exchange. An employer does not have to contribute a dime. Just by bringing in this resource provides value to your employees.

2. If you do want contribute to the promotions, here is an option. Once the advisor helps pick a plan, the employee can increase the employee's wages to offset the cost of promotions. This goes down on the books as an income increase, not a reimbursement. Taxes will be paid on the extra portion as any other income received by the employee. More or less, this is a pay raise to all the employees.

3. Provide a traditional employer sponsored group health plan. Employers do have a minimum they must contribute to the employee's portion of the premium only. Some insurance companies require the employer to pay 25% of the employee premium. Other insurance companies could be 50% or higher. Spouses and child (ren) coverage is optional to offer and no minimum contributions are set for the employer.

Note: By doing an employer sponsored group health insurance and not offer coverage for the spouses and family could allow the spouse and children to qualify for a health insurance tax credit. This could reduce their premiums to keep it affordable. If they do not qualify for the credit, they can choose any plan they want with the insurance advisor.

There are several ways to provide value to employees using employee benefits and keeping it affordable to the employer. Your employees will thank you for doing it and may be a little more productive in the workplace.

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How To Overcome Unexpected Challenges

Step 1: Know yourself

Before I go any further, it's critical that you understand what you do when unexpected happens. If you do not know how you handle change, I strongly recommend Kolbe Assessment for you. Kolbe measures your natural strengths, instincts that kick in when unexpected happens or when you approach a new challenge or situation.

It's also important to know your values, your priorities and set your boundaries. This will help you make wiser choices even in the middle of unexpected challenges.

Once you understand what you do in such situations, what are your values ​​and priorities, it's easier to continue the process and come up with plan that will work for YOU.

Step 2: Have and follow an emergency plan

If you do not have an emergency plan yet, there are two ways how to create it:

Write down what can possibly go wrong with a specific project or what went wrong in the past. Then come up with the best solution how you can approach the situation next time it happens. You might even do some research on what worked for others who deal with similar situation. This is a wonderful exercise for you if you resist the change and all you can think of are the negatives, why NOT to do or change something. You would do this before you start a project.

Start from ground zero. Every time a situation comes up and you're facing an unexpected, take time to write it down and figure out the best possible solution if similar situation arises again in the future. This will work for you especially if you are natural risk taker and jumping into new projects is a second nature for you. You would do this during or after you start a project.

The important part at this stage is to FOLLOW your plan.

Who needs to know that your website is down? Contact that person!

Who can you call when your child is sick? Call them to come over.

Who can help you reschedule your client appointment if you just had power outage and no access to the internet? Have them on speed dial !!! (TIP: Remember to have your client contact information stored somewhere that's accessible for that person.)

Where can you find a new assistant when your existing one quit without notice? Do not delay and hope for your assistant to change your mind, find a new one right away.

This list could go on and on, I just wanted to get you started. What other challenges have you experienced in your business, work or life? How about family?

Just a quick bonus tip before I move to the next step. One of my favorite strategies when the power outage happens (It proved super helpful during power outage here in GTA = Greater Toronto Area this winter), is to charge my cell phone in a car. I keep a car charger in my car at all times. My iPhone allows me to stay connected to the outside word not just through phone calls and text, but also over the Internet. Super helpful, especially if you run business online!

Step 3: Give yourself a break

There are times when there's nothing you can do. Get over that desire to please everyone! Give yourself permission to take time off when your child needs to see a doctor or you need to stay in bed.

Always try your best, but if there's nothing you can do, do nothing. ~ Silvia Pencak

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The Topics of Legal, Insurance and Human Resources

All businesses need to have the ability to receive consultative support in the areas of legal, insurance and human resources.

As these areas are sometimes overlooked by the new entrepreneur – you as a savvy, intelligent entrepreneur know this should really be at the top of your list of concern!

Why?

The possible difficulties that can impact your business and the realities of ignoring the importance of each of these areas can not be taken too lightly.

Recognizing the importance of legal, insurance and human resources requirements of your business and being prepared is essential to reduce the risks to your business.

Have you seriously thought about the legal, insurance and human resources requirements of your business? If so, have you been struggling with trying to sort it all out so that you can have what you need but not too much or too little?

Somewhere in your thinking you know that you need to address these areas for your business. You have heard all of the pros and cons, but you still need ACTIONABLE STEPS in order to make a decision and move forward.

With regards to the legal, insurance and human resources needs for your business – are you:

· An aspiring entrepreneur who is unsure of what you should have for your new business and if and when you will need it.

· An aspiring entrepreneur who already knows what your business needs or will need, but you are not sure how to get started to work towards making a decision.

· An established entrepreneur, who is concerned that you have not been able to sort out what you should do about these matters.

· A new or established entrepreneur that hears so much conflicting advice about these topics and you can not make sense of what to do.

Why Should These Topics Be So Important to Entrepreneurs?

Many a successful business has found itself in great trouble because of the lack of having addressed these areas of their business.

Ignoring their importance does not minimize their value!

The goal is to minimize business risks in order to minimize the effects of a potential problem.

These considerations include:

Legal: the undue problems that a company can find them can sometimes be avoided with the relevant contracts and proper legal advice. There is the idea that a business can “get by” without paying for legal advice and that that remains a decision the entrepreneur must make. Often times a “wait-and-see” approach to legal advice is not always the best.

Insurance: it is so important for businesses to have adequate insurance in place. Also, the right kind of insurance is important. If a business ignores the importance of insurance, they are left unprotected in case of trouble.

Human Resources: although it may be tempting to just “hire and fire” as the entrepreneur sees fit, but this can lead to all sorts of difficulties if everything is not handled in the correct way. There are also other issues such as knowing how to handle various employee situations and what can happen if they are deal with in a legal and human way.

Why Do Entrepreneurs' Often Find These Matters Difficult?

Legal, insurance and human resources are some of the most difficult and trying areas for entrepreneurs (both new and well-known) to deal with.

This is often due to fact that most entrepreneurs:

· Are generally positive thinkers who naturally do not think about the risks of being in business.

· Believe that “nothing will happen to me” and that liability and other risks associated with business are not likely to occur.

· Have the idea that to spend money on these areas of their business is not needed, except absolutely necessary.

It is often helpful for entrepreneurs to have a more forward-thinking plan that includes:

· Becoming more analytical about their business and understanding that while problems can not be avoided, but they can be minimized.

· In the case of a real challenge to the business, whether it involves legal, insurance or a human resources matter, it will always cost more to fix, than to less the risks to begin with.

· Taking an attitude of “plan for the worst, but expect the best” as a mindset that will help to be prepared in case of problems.

· Realizing there are certain business costs that must be expected in business that are unavoidable.

· Appreciating the benefits of having peace of mind with the knowledge that business risks have been properly considered and acted upon.

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Do I Really Need a Budget Plan for My Business?

Many entrepreneurs wait until it is too late to appreciate the benefits of having a budget.

Although budgets are important to be prepared through the entire life of your business, it is ESSENTIAL BEFORE starting your business.

Why?

You must determine if the business has the ability to cover its business expenses because if it can not, the business will be broke before it even starts to earn money (generate revenue).

Therefore, the business must be able to pay its own way for its expenses or it will not be able to continue.

It is obvious why this is so important!

What is a budget plan?

Briefly, budgets are used for planning the expenses the business will require and the revenues the business expects to generate.

Simply put as an entrepreneur you must :

• understand the cash outflows (expenses) and,

• understand the cash inflows (revenue) of your business.

Since all entrepreneurs have the same goal: To Be Profitable – it makes sense that a strategy to measure if the business will be profitable must be put into place.

A budget can help to achieve this.

Although budget plans are often considered to be challenging – they are essential and should not be ignored.

The money, the numbers are often considered to be one of the driest parts of a business – some would even say boring!

However, especially if you are a new entrepreneur, you should learn from the start how to have a healthy respect and appreciation for “working with the numbers” in your business.

Focus on the vast amount of benefit and information that budgeting can provide for you.

Is Creating a Budget Plan Difficult?

There is no doubt that budget creation can be very complex. The level of detail, time frames and assumption that can be part of the budgeting process is often difficult even for those well versed with it. However, it is usually larger companies, government and expansive non-profit organizations that need the budgeting process to be more complicated and involved. They are creating budgets for more than just owners, it is for a number of interested parties and stakeholders that have an interest in the company.

However, there is a difference for new, start-up businesses with regard to their budget. Like business plans, it is not necessary for the small business owner, especially start-ups to prepare overly lengthy and detailed budgets.

New entrepreneurs should have a Preliminary Budget Plan that will include the main financial essentials of start-up for the first year.

The intent of this Preliminary Budget Plan is to get you:

· Understanding the benefits of creating your first budget.

· Feeling “at-home” with creating a budget.

· Committed from the beginning to the habit of establishing and having a budget.

· Feeling in control of how budgeting works.

· Lessening your frustration / anxiety about creating a budget.

Often times it may seem as though everything has been considered, but there can be certain aspects that have not appropriately been addressed from a financial prospect … that can leave you feeling unsure and doubtful of your abilities as an entrepreneur.

Why is it called a Preliminary Budget Plan?

Note there are many formats and versions of budget plans, however they have similar features and are created for the same purpose: to help you determine what the revenue is expected to be in the company, the direct costs associated with generating this revenue and the expenses that are anticipated to be incurred.

Assuming that you are starting a new business and are in the start-up phase, it is not necessary to have an overly detailed budget plan.

It is called the Preliminary Budget Plan as it is a starting point budget that is intended to get you, the entrepreneur involved in the habit of acquiring and having a budget, right from the beginning. It is presented in a straight-forward, step-by-step fashion. A Preliminary Budget Plan is also shorter and easier to understand and prepare.

Therefore, this Preliminary Budget Plan provides a minimum layout to get you started!

Here are just some of the questions that a Preliminary Budget Plan should answer when it is applied:

· Measure if revenue is in fact covering your costs

  • Make pricing decisions
  • Measure the current success of your business
  • Foresee problems in your business

· Provide valuable strategic information about your business

+ other financial answers …

A Preliminary Budget Plan is shown in a step-by-step method that allows you to organize your thoughts and WRITE DOWN your intentions through documenting them in a meaningful way. It also provides you with a document to provide to interested parties (for example, banks, investors, etc.) if the need arises.

A Preliminary Budget Plan will help you to:

1. Establish what revenue (sales) the business intends to earn.

2. Establish how much the business intends to spend on direct costs and expenses.

3. Determine if items 1 and 2 above will result in the business being profitable.

For as long as you are an entrepreneur, it is essential to understand the money.

You need to prepare a Preliminary Budget Plan , if you are:

· An aspiring entrepreneur who is serious about properly planning a new business and would like to discover how to prepare a business budget.

· An experienced entrepreneur who never has prepared a budget plan, but would like to learn how.

· An aspiring entrepreneur who is skeptical of a budget plan, but would like to explore the process and know more.

· Any entrepreneur who has heard about budget plans, but are confused and would like some clear DIRECTION of what to do.

So. How Do I, As an Entrepreneur Create a Simple Budget?

Through our process of preparing a Preliminary Budget Plan you will:

1. Engage in strategies that will help you to improve your mindset about money.

2. Help you to focus on the financial intentions of your business.

3. Apply a straightforward, step-by-step process to prepare your Preliminary Budget Plan .

4. Obtain some financial clarity about your business.

5. Feel confident using the “simple elegance” of this process.

What Else Does Creating the Budgeting Plan Offer to the Entrepreneur?

Aside from the obvious, practical benefits that have already been discussed, there are other valuable contributions that budgeting leads to you, the thoughtful entrepreneur:

This notably includes:

  • Increased confidence
  • Increased decision-making abilities
  • Increased ability to assess possibilities
  • Increased self-esteem with better awareness
  • Increased judicial capabilities

Why?

The more you can create, evaluate and understand the money aspects of your business, the more in control and able to make your business all that it can be – it is within your reach!

Remember: these are skills that you will have for the LIFETIME of your business as you will ALWAYS need to consider your business budget.

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Affordable Web Based EMR and Medical Billing Solutions

A doctor starting a new practice, a therapist who still prefers handwritten notes, a primary care physician looking to streamline the office, or a small practice owner or administrator simply trying to maximize reimbursements. If any of these is you, with the deadline for Federal Government's Meaningful Use attestation mandate around the corner, and getting squeezed by regulation, reporting and unproductive paper chase, then it's time to upgrade to a Web Based EMR and Medical Billing solution.

With so many vendors and products, and a constant noise of claims and counterclaims, how do you go about finding your sweet spot with the most affordable EMR and medical billing solution that is most suitable for your small or medium size practice? Here are some considerations:

1) Quality of Care.

Quality of patient care should always be the first and foremost concern of any practice. If you are a small practice, you want to enhance and improve on that experience by adopting an affordable web based EMR solution for ease of patient check-in / check-out, creating / updating electronic patient charts, review / order prescriptions and refills, including drug-drug / drug-allergy interactions, ordering labs and radiology, reading results and updating charts, and much, much more … all with the click of a few buttons, or by dictating for seamless voice-to-text conversion.

2) Integration.

There are clinical aspects of your medical practice, and then there are the financial aspects. They both need to work hand in hand along with their relevant underlining functions, such as, prescriptions, lab-orders, insurance eligibility, co-pay collection, seamless claims submission and remittance posting, etc., in order to run your business efficiently. A web based EMR, Practice Management and Medical Billing solution should integrate all aspects of the practice – clinical and financial, around a single platform and a single shared database so that any changes made in any one module are automatically available in the rest of the functions instantly without having to reenter the data. A truly fully integrated EMR and Medical Billing system that eliminates duplication and improves overall productivity.

3) Customer Service.

Are implementation and training costs spelled out in black & white and are as affordable as the EMR and Medical Billing solutions? Does the vendor conduct training at your schedule or his? Is face-to-face training an available option even at reasonable additional cost? Does the vendor have clinical staff on their implementation team or do you only deal with techies, who may not be as adept about the work and clinical aspects as they may be about bits and bytes. You want to go to a vendor who offers a total solution spanning from an affordable EMR to an integrated practice management and a comprehensive medical billing service, especially if you are a small or medium size medical practice with limited resources.

4) Cost.

If only you can get everything you need and want in a web based EMR and Medical Billing system and all that flexibility about implementation and training and unlimited support – all for one simple modest fee! Make a wish list of features and aspects that are must-have, followed by nice-to-have, and shop the vast pool of vendors and solutions. You want an affordable EMR and possibly a medical billing solution included, and you need to know what you are paying for each item on your list. Do you incur an additional cost for upgrades and training? Is there a maintenance fee that you are required to pay annually? If you add up all of the fees and charges, you may or may not find the EMR really affordable.

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What You Can Expect From A Successful Business Blog

One of the most powerful online approaches for a business owner looking to increase sales and influence is to begin blogging as soon as possible. There are a myriad of benefits that come from blogging for your business, many of which most business owners are not even aware of. To inspire you to start blogging here are just a few of its many benefits!

Positions You as a Trusted Authority

The most valuable commodity any small or home-based business owner can have is the trust of its audience. On the Internet there is so much hype, over-promoting and under-delivering as well as huge amounts of advertising that the trust consumers have for most businesses is at an all time low. This has a massive negative effect on potential customers' willingness to do business with you. By blogging and sharing your advice with a personal touch you can increase this and see a huge increase in conversion rates and the prices your customers are willing to pay you.

Increased Traffic

These days the search engines love sites that regularly produce fresh content with a low bounce rate. By blogging regularly you will gain higher rankings for an ever greater number of keywords and also attract links and viral sharing through existing readers. This is backed up by statistics which show that businesses that blog have 433% more pages indexed than those that do not. This produces a greater quantity of higher quality traffic for your business.

It is not that difficult to get that recognition once you know how to blog effectively and in such a way that will have the search engines finding and promoting your site, which after all is what you need and want for increased business results.

Ability to Interact With Customers

Ask any successful business person wherever you need to be able to understand your market deeply or not and they will resoundingly reply, “Yes”! Blogging for business lets you interact in all kinds of ways such as including surveys, reading comments and asking people to email suggestions. This gives you critical insights into what your market desires which will boost your profits.

Conclusion

Blogging is an incredibly powerful online business strategy and it is worth making the effort to find out how to blog in a way that will not only increase the traffic to your blog but also increase traffic to your business and increase sales.

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Pricing – Get It Right!

Pricing is one of the most vital factors in making a profit for both retail and service companies. With the right business coaching, Perth businesses can increase their profits simply by setting better prices. Here are some basic rules when it comes to pricing.

Know Your Demand – Market research is vital to proper pricing. Whether your business caters to a broad spectrum or a definite niche, you need to know how badly people want or need your products or services. Demand always drives up prices.

Know Your Competitors – You also need to know what the competition is charging in order to provide a competitive rate. This is especially important for a new startup business. If you have not been around long enough to build a reputation for your business, you can not expect people to pay a significant amount more for your services simply on the promise of superior results.

Do not Undersell Yourself – Many entrepreneurs feel that in order to drive business growth they need to seriously undersell their competitors. While sales and discounts are a great way to bring in new customers (we'll get to that in a minute), you do not want to undersell by so much that you:

  • Give the impression your product or service is inferior
  • Lose money on your product
  • Have to provide a poor quality service to make a job worth your time
  • Take a loss on work

Utilize Discount and Sale Pricing – This is a great way to deal with extra stock when you thought a product would be more popular than it is. It's also a great way to bring in new customers. You may break even or take a loss on one product so that you can bring in customers who leave with a cart full. You may also provide sales on seasonal work to bring in new customers at the beginning of the season or to encourage customers to get that one more service performed at the end of the season.

Getting the price right on a product or service is about a combination of keeping good records of costs, so you know what you have to charge in order to turn a decent profit, and research, so you know what people are willing to pay for a product and what your competition charges. After that, it's all about getting your business out there so so that people come into the store or call for an estimate. The right pricing and marketing plan will drive business growth , increase revenues and you will be able to take competitive advantage .

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If I Gave You a $100,000 Marketing Budget What Would You Do With It?

Let's face it. Developing a marketing budget for a small business is usually not a very big priority. Typically we just do not have enough money to warrant having a formal marketing budget. Sometimes we even ignore doing one because it's depressing. After all if you do not have any money to put towards a marketing budget, what's the point of creating one?

Why bother? The answer is quite simple. If you do not create a marketing budget, chances are you're reacting with your marketing instead of proactive. In other words you may be choosing what to spend your marketing on in the moment vs. a consistent strategic approach over the year.

Do not be too hard on yourself if this is ringing true. Chances are what's stopping you is that you feel you do not have the money to do what you would like to do with your marketing.

So that's why for today's exercise I'd like you to embrace a philosophy I learned over 20 years ago. It was at a time when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. One of the thought leaders at the time talked about taking your limitations out of the picture so that you can clearly see what it is you want to achieve. He suggested that to take out the limit of finances, you pretend you have a huge amount of money. That way you can focus on your dreams and aspirations instead of limiting yourself by financial constraints.

It's actually this little exercise that I want you to think about applying to your marketing budget today.

By doing so I believe you will arrive at three major benefits:

  1. You will finally formalize a marketing budget for your company.
  2. You will have clarity on what it is you really want to accomplish with your marketing.
  3. You will be more proactive with your marketing instead of reactive.

Allocating Your $ 100,000 Budget

In order to start our exercise, the first thing you have to do is to think about where you want to apply your imaginary $ 100,000 (feel free to make this number higher if it makes even more sense) budget. Below I've listed the main components that should be part of any good marketing system. Have a look at the elements below, feel free to tweak it and then allocate your $ 100,000 in a way that would make some sense for your business over the next year.

Marketing Strategy

Campaign Development

  • Content Creation
  • Graphic Design
  • Landing Pages
  • Follow Up Steps
  • Measurement

Promotional Channels

  • Advertising
  • Promotions
  • PR
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Referral Strategies

Audience Engagement

  • Social Media
  • Engagement
  • Blogging
  • Email Marketing
  • Website Updates

Credibility Elements

  • Reviews, Testimonials, Case Studies
  • Award Submissions
  • eBooks & Books

Selling Tools

  • Proposal Development
  • Product / Service Packaging
  • Cross Selling / Upselling Promotions
  • eCommerce

Making Sense of the Numbers

Now I want you to notice where you weighed the money. These heavy weights areas probably hold more importance to you. So take note of them.

Next notice where you allocate the least amount of money. It would make sense that these areas hold either the least amount of importance or you feel that you can tackle these areas on your own with little or no cost.

Finally remove the areas where you have allocated nothing because either they do not apply or they are not a priority in the next year.

What's Your REAL Number?

It should now be clear where you would focus your dollars if you had the budget. Now let's take our marketing budget down to reality. To start, I want you to come up with a figure that you feel you can reasonably spend within the year. If you're having trouble discovering what this number should be here's a few realistic (vs theoretical) ways to calculate your marketing budget.

The simplest way is to take a percentage of your net sales or net profit – a percentage you feel you can afford to put towards marketing.

Another approach is to look at what you spent last year on your marketing and determine whether or not you could afford to spend the same amount or maybe a little bit more this year.

A third technique is to look at what your monthly sales are and then to allocate an amount that you feel can affordably handle month to month, knowing that some months are busier than others during the year.

Finding a budget for a small business usually means some sacrifice. It could come from nixing the cliché “daily latte,” skimming from other outgoing costs, reducing your income or borrowing. Just make sure the sacrifice does not cause you to lose sleep at night!

Remember that investing in your marketing budget is like investing in a company's stock. The difference is you have insight into this business.

Defining Your Real Budget

Now that you have your number. I want to go back and look at your budget. Let's say your annual budget is $ 10,000 vs $ 100,000. Can you reduce each number to 10% or are some now ridiculously too small? Are the areas that you identified as important still weighed more heavily? Can you reduce the least important areas to gain more budget in other areas?

In reordering your budget you probably discovered some areas that you can do yourself to save money. Be very careful that these elements do not end up putting so much on your plate that there's just no way you could actually get around to doing them all without jeopardizing other elements of your business.

Review your new to-do list. Now prioritize it by importance as well as your skill level. If they are not important and you do not have skill with them, can you put them on hold for now?

You still may find you need to take some things off of your marketing budget for now. Keep a “parking lot” budget document and review it when you have more money to spend. It will give you new ideas to implement going forward and a budget number to strive for.

Have a look at what you've created! Do you find that you now have a clear idea on where you want to go with your marketing? Do you feel like you have created an affordable, realistic marketing budget? Are you excited about doing something a little different now with your marketing?

Having a formal marketing budget gives you an important guideline to measure your marketing activity. It will help you grow your business and give you sound advice on where to focus your marketing activity.

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How to Pinpoint Your Prospects’ Pain Points

Ka-boom! You've just had a brilliant idea for a new product. You rush to get all your ideas down on paper, shell out thousands to your web designer, and start building a new business that you're sure is going to change lives (not to mention make you a millionaire!)

Six months later no one's buying, and you end up disheartened, disillusioned, and broke.

What did you do wrong?

You failed to consider your prospects' pain points.

Keep reading to learn:

-Why you should never start a business without a problem in mind

-How to tell the difference between a problem and a pain point

-How to determine what's causing your customers pain

What's the problem?

Trying to sell a product without solving a problem is like opening a surf shop in the middle of the Himalayas. You might be selling the greatest surf boards on earth, but no amount of convincing is going to make the locals buy them.

Your customers have problems – lots of them – and as a business owner, it's your job to pinpoint those problems and offer ways to solve them.

In other words, your product or service should be created and developed with a specific problem in mind.

Ordinary problems vs. pain points

But not just any old problem will do.

For example, Mary needs to brush her teeth but she's out of toothpaste. This is a problem, but it's not particularly pressing, it's not terribly expensive, and Mary's not going to lose any sleep over it because she can always hop in the car, head to a drugstore, and pick up some Colgate.

The kind of problem you should pinpoint, then, is a problem that is causing your prospect emotional pain.

Robert hates going to work every day and longs to work for himself. He dreads waking up in the morning because he hates his boss. Each minute of the day is torturous. He would give anything, do anything, pay anything to quit his job and start his own business.

Help Robert solve his problem and you not only gain a customer – you gain a loyal fan who can not stop talking about you and your business, and who can not wait to refer you to his friends.

Pinpointing pain points

So how are you expected to find out what your customer's pain points are in the first place?

Talk to people

No, really. Talk to anyone and everyone you know who falls into your target market, and even those who do not.

What's bothering them most? What are they trying to change about their lives? What's causing them irritation, anxiety, depression, fear or rage?

Look for common denominators in their answers and incorporated them into your marketing.

Spy on the competition

-Check out the blog and / or forums of your top competitors.

-What are people discussing in the comments section of the website?

-What questions are they asking?

-How does your competition work to solve their problems?

Now take your research a step further and look for areas where your competition falls short.

For example, let's say your competition only offers customer support from 9am to 5pm during the week. You check out their blog and see a lot of comments complaining about this and asking for 24-hour support.

You can then incorporate 24-hour support into your brand, knowing beforehand that it's something your prospects need and want – you have solved a pain point and given them a concrete reason to make the switch to your company.

Use Social Networks

Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are prime places to research pain points. People love to share their ups and downs. Join groups using your personal profile and build relationships with your prospects.

Read the comments section of popular posts and collect concrete evidence of what's bugging people most.

Finally, do not be afraid to ask questions. If you're still unclear about your prospect's most pressing pain points, ask! Create a survey, send out an email blast, or post questions to social media.

Whatever you do, do not build a brand based on a great idea alone. In order to be monetarily successful, that great idea must also be a solution to a great problem.

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Solving Your Clients Problems Can Make You Rich

Here are a few problems that people have turned into industries. Contact lenses, hearing aids, dentures, diet products, cosmetics, natural health products, filtered water and gym classes. And, what about Wedding Planners, Life Coaches, Insurance Brokers and Agents who bid on properties for Real Estate Investors? How about head phones, mobile phones, laptops and acupuncture. All of these industries sprung up due to an identified, or perceived, gap in the market.

But, in the beginning these ideas did not get universal acceptance. The concept behind each of these products often needed to be 'sold' to the potential customer. Cost was sometimes a factor. However, the problem was usually that most people are wary of anything new until they see proof or have faith in the people behind the product. This article will help to show you how to create that trust and belief so that people will buy from you.

Whilst some niches are relatively small when initially identified, they can grow rapidly. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg never saw 1 billion plus users when he had the idea for Facebook back in February 2004. Who would have? And you can bet that he never anticipated that a future American president would use Facebook as an Election tool. Originally Zuckerberg's plan was to link Harvard students so they could connect online with each other. However, he was smart enough, or lucky enough, to quickly see that what he had started was spreading like wildfire. The rest is history. How long will it last? Who knows? We live in the Age of Communication where speed is king. The next big thing could be, and probably is, just around the corner.

Less than 35 years ago, who could have foreseen PCs and laptops in almost every household in the free world. Even Steve Jobs and Bill Gates never saw that one until much later. Mobile phones were actually unknown 25 years ago but someone realized that they would one day be an item that would be used by all sorts of individuals. Not just miners, construction foremen and sales people, but mums and dads, even 6 year old kids. And who would have thought that we could take pictures, shoot videos, plan our work, do calculations, send emails and text messages, connect to the internet, play games or check in at the local pub on them?

So, what will come next? Who knows?

Luckily we do not need to invent the next big thing. We do not need to create the next YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. We do not need to invent an electric car that will sell for less than $ 10,000 or a carbon free lighting system. Others with unlimited wealth and resources can do that.

All you need to do is to come up with is an idea that helps people to look good, feel good, make more money, save more money, feel healthier, live longer, get more out of pain, work less , be inspired, laugh, travel, retire earlier or be more comfortable. If you can help lots of people do just one of these things you will be very successful. And probably very wealthy. Inventing a better mousetrap, coming up with a simple way to teach 4 year olds to read or finding an easier way to remove a cork from a wine bottle is often all it takes.

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Going Into Business

Preparing yourself for 'going into business' is all about having an idea, researching the idea and drawing up a business plan. Getting this right is vital for your future small business success.

  1. The Business Idea

Most people go into business with as little as a few thousand dollars. Some start with less than $ 500. Many businesses start out as a hobby and most begin part time before quitting their job when it becomes that appearance that they can make a living out of doing something that they love. Others feel that they do not like working for someone else and decide to go it alone. Some people just need a 'sea change'.

You may be bored with your job, looking for a new challenge or you may have identified an opportunity that suits your skills and captures your imagination. You may have identified a gap in the market and feel that the timing is right. People start businesses for all sorts of reasons. Some need to earn extra money. Others want to have their own boss or to build a lifestyle by working flexible hours. For example, I like to run and I work my own hours. What do you like to do?

Whatever your situation, you need to consider –

  • what you want to do
  • why you want to do it
  • how will it make you feel

Is this business something that you really want to do? Ask yourself “Why is it important to me?” You must be able to answer this question. Does it excite you? If not, you may be better off looking elsewhere.

If you do not have a strong enough 'Why' , your chances of long term success can decrease dramatically. What will drive you to succeed in your own business? What will get you out of bed each day with a spring in your step? Is it the lifestyle, the money, the self satisfaction, the extra time with the family, the product or service? If there is a driving force, the things you need to succeed will just arrive. The right people, the right ideas and the right resources with come to you effortlessly.

Remember that it may feel right for you today, but how will you feel about it in 12 months from now? These are important questions that you need to answer before you get started.

  1. Researching the idea and the market

The internet is a wonderful business tool. We can access everything from Government statistics to articles, forums and websites on specialist subjects. All Governments these days have a Statistics Department where you can learn an amount of detail about your potential market.

Demographics can tell you a lot about local and international markets. You can find out where your potential customers live, their age, marital status, occupation, income, children, home owners etc.

Social Media platforms can help you to communicate and engage with your prospective markets. Start by asking your Facebook and Twitter friends what they think of your business idea. Set up an online Survey and ask 3 to 5 relevant questions about your business. This is a great way to find out if you may be onto a winner.

Make sure you attend business networking groups. These can be a lot of fun and they allow you to connect with business people all across Australia and internationally.

  1. Creating a Business Plan

A good Business Plan needs to have a Vision, a Mission Statement, Financial Goals and Objectives and an Action Plan. Without these features it is just a Wish, not a Plan. Make it succinct, understandable and believable.

How important is a Business Plan?

A Business Plan is vital to forecast the path of the business. It helps to determine if you have a financially viable business. It will also help you to keep

track of your results, and to see if you are on target. If you need to borrow money to set up or to expand the business, your Bank Manager will ask to see your Business Plan.

A written Business Plan works because it makes you focus on what you want from your business and what your customers want from you. When you give your customers what they want, they keep buying from you. It's as simple as that!

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5 Ways To Stay Committed To Your Business or Vision

I remember when I first started blogging. I had something of a clear vision, some lofty goals and plenty of enthusiasm. I blazed through my first set of articles. Could not wait to press the “publish” button so I could officially become a blogger. Thousand of people would see my blog. They would tweet and like my articles and I would see hundreds of comments, I thought. Well, it did not go like that exactly. I do not believe I received 10 visits. No one made any comments and no tweeted or liked my articles.

How could this happen? I had read up on all the latest SEO tricks – I read e-books about how to write articles that attract readers, how to market your blog so that it ranks high in the search engine and strategies on how to use social media publicize my blog . With all this information and tips, I should be ahead of the game. I soon learned that it takes time, commitment and a lot of effort to build an audience. It took about three to four months before I started building a decent number of followers. I was still excited about building a business online but there was a lot I still needed to learn.

I still needed to improve my writing. I still needed to learn where and how to market my blog. And most importantly, I had to learn that knowledge takes consistency and posting good stuff. Like most people in today's culture, we expect microwave success. I was no different. You read so many articles about people attracting thousands of readers overnight and making instant profits. Just usually is not that way in the real world.

So with my business building slow and not making money with the blog, what does it take to stay committed to my vision?

1. Remember why you started blogging in the first place. I did not start blogging for instant success. I started blogging because I love to blog. When you do what you do for the love of it, ever success will come. Although I would eventually like to make money blogging, I'm OK if I do not.

2. Keep your eye on the prize. When building a business, organization or working on any dream of any kind, you can not focus on the here and now. If you do, you will become discouraged and quit. Instead, focus on your ultimate goal, whatever that goal is.

3. Read about other successful bloggers and try to emulate what they did . You have to constantly educate yourself when you're in any type of business. You need to learn the latest trends, keep up with the latest technology and find out what and how audiences are changing. That's what successful people do. Find their niche and keep up with what's going on in their niche.

4. Set realistic and specific goals and I consistently reassess those goals . When you set goals and put them down on paper. Your dreams become reality. You can see on paper where you are and what you need to do. Putting your goals on paper makes you more accountable. But make your goals realistic. By making your goals realistic and achievable, you stay positive and committed.

5. Expect set backs. No successful person has ever started any business, organization or company without experiencing some set backs. Set backs are part of the learning process. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple. President Abraham Lincoln failed at many businesses and political positions before becoming America's 16th president. And believe it or not, Bill Gates failed at first business. So what makes you think you're not going to experience failure? Just make sure you learn from your failures.

I hope this article was an inspiration to you. Just wanted to let you know that like most people, you do not start writing and marketing your blog and become wildly successful over night. Most people struggle for months and years until they hone their craft and learn what it takes to become success at both blogging and business.

I would like your comments and replies in the comment section. Interested to hear about your successes and failures or if you're on the fence about starting your business.

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Frenemies: Cooperating With Competitors

If you are the type of Solopreneur or business owner who believes that a primary business goal is to annihilate and destroy your competition, then you're likely destined to become a less successful entrepreneur. Research now demonstrates the wisdom of the adage “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

A 2004 study conducted by James Westphal, professor of management at the University of Texas at Austin, examined CEO friendships in 293 US companies and found that regardless of the intensity of competition within a given industry, rival CEOs who formed friendships enjoyed distinct business-related advantages over those who shunned competitors.

According to Westphal, not only is it possible to make friends with competitors, it's advisable. He explained the advantages of friendships among rivals this way: “When business owners get together, what do they do? Talk shop.

In other words, by getting to know rivals, you'll obtain information and get exposure to perspectives that can help make you more successful. Follow a bit of counter-intuitive advice and realize that business is not always a zero-sum game. A competitor's win does not automatically mean your loss.

If getting chummy with the competition makes you feel a little queasy, then get friendly with a competitor based in another locale. The distance will create a boundary that could make it comfortable for the two of you to trade ideas about topics like how to make clients happy, how to take advantage of, or protect yourself from, market trends, or social media and advertising strategies.

In some instances, you may decide to cooperate with a competitor. It's potentially risky, but forming a strategic collaboration with one of your competitors can benefit the bottom line and help both entities to thrive. It can be a smart expansion or survival strategy for Solopreneurs and small business owners who are trying to remain viable. Maybe there is a partnership you can set up with the right semi-rival? It's called coopetition .

Coopetition can also mean establishing a referral relationship. Accountants and bookkeepers have done this forever, with much success. Their functions have similarities, but each party knows and respects boundaries.

In the June 15, 2014 issue of the New York Times Bernard L. Schwartz, former CEO of the Loral Corporation, spoke of how his brother reached out to his main competitor, whose warehouse was destroyed in a fire.

“This guy was basically out of business, because his customers could not wait for him to come back. (The brother) called him — they knew each other from trade organizations — and said '… I want to make a proposal to you. Why do not you let me serve your customers and when you get your plant back up, you can have them back?

'That's going to be good for me, because I will have the extra business for that time. But I guarantee you that I will not keep your customers when you're ready to come back on board. ' The brother later explained, “If it happened to me, I'd be out of business. It could happen to anyone.”

Create the conditions for successful coopetation by defining boundaries and expectations and working only with someone you know to be trustworthy. Do not underestimate the potential for difficulties in establishing and sustaining such an arrangement.

Assumptions about appropriate customer service or corporate culture can derail your best intentions. Careful planning and execution are crucial. In close collaborations, a written non-disclosure, non-compete agreement is essential.

Finally, remember where friendship ends and business begins. There will be sensitive issues that are best kept to yourself, like new business initiatives. Keep your antennae raised as you and a worthy competitor mull over ways to share resources or expertise and boost profits in the process.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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8 Business Pricing Strategies to Think About

We hear from so many business people about the struggles that they have setting their business pricing, particularly in service-based industries.

Where are you in all of this?

Here are some tips that may help you to work through the challenges of setting your business pricing, assuming you have a service-based business.

What NOT to do:

Do not cheapen yourself – while it is tempting to think of client-is-a-client – you are making you and your business appear as just another off-the-rack offering. If you really offer a special service (and of course you do because of who you are) then this must be communicated to your potential client. Therefore, presenting an “anytime, anywhere” approach will less the importance of what you have to offer. This is also communicated in improper pricing strategies.

Do not worry about what competition is charging – they probably have a different business model than you and even if they do not, what they offer for what price is probably different. Focus on you and what your business needs and you will be much more successful.

Do not ask your client what their budget is – if you are a “real” business person, your pricing requirements should reflect your business needs. What budget that people have to hire you for your services is not what is important. It also places them in the driver's seat to dictate to you what they can afford when it should be what value you deliver.

Do not trade “dollars for hours” – this is a model that is sure to cause you to undercut your services and result in haggling with clients for what exactly you have done and how long it has taken you. You do not want to be subject to such specific criticism. After all what difference does it make how long it takes you to perform a service – when results are all that matter.

What TO DO:

Invest in quality – although it looks obvious, many smaller business owners do not consider the quality of their clients as important, but rather they focus on quantity. As with anything, you are working to get those who really, really need your services and will be repeat business. How do you find them? You must spend the money to advertise to find them. You do not want those only looking for the free or low cost option.

Show your results – have your clients understand what results that you provide, not the length of time or the process for getting there. Let them see client reviews and explain to them what results that you have achieved for your clients.

Find the right clients – at the end-of-the-day – you do not want to work with everyone as there is no possible way that you will appeal to all potential clients and frankly: you do not want to! Therefore, have a method to find the right clients as they will become a good current client and hopefully will provide repeat business and referrals.

Have confidence – if you exude the confidence that you should, your clients / customers are kindly to understand the value of what you have to offer. You must respect yourself and what you do – if you do not then re-engineer your company and your life so that you feel this way about yourself. As in the old saying “believe in yourself utterly to have others believe the same.”

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